February: the coldest, darkest, bleakest month of the year. Even the groundhogs don’t get too excited about it… thank goodness it is only 28 days long. Although February doesn’t have too much going for it, it is known as the month of love. My guess is that it is because it’s so miserable outside, we have no choice but to spend time with our loved ones indoors. In February we celebrate Valentine’s Day with our beloved, and it has also been deemed “American Heart Month”. To distract ourselves from the cold winter this month, let’s focus on our hearts.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a broad term that gets thrown around commonly. I always think it’s important to take a step back and remind ourselves about what the term is actually referring to. In simple terms, it refers to diseases of the heart and blood vessels. There are many ways that CVD can manifest itself, let’s look at some of these terms:
- Hypertension = Increased blood pressure on the walls of the vessels
- Atherosclerosis = Buildup of plaque inside the vessels
- Myocardial Infarction = Heart attack. Part of the heart muscle dies because the vessels are blocked off
- Ischemic Stroke = a blood clot builds up in the vessel, breaks off, and cuts off blood supply to another part of the body, causing injury. These clots typically form because of plaque.
- Hemorrhagic Stroke = a blood vessel bursts, causing internal bleeding. This happens when the blood pressure is too high.
According to the American Heart Association, being overweight increases our risk for all these heart diseases. The latest figures from the government estimate the prevalence of obesity in America at 42%. It is also true that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. So what can we do to protect our heart during the month of Love, and make sure we stay around as long as possible for our loved ones?
- Write down a goal, and make a plan to achieve it. Writing the goal down drastically increases the likelihood you will meet it.
- Reducing your dietary intake by 500 calories a day. You will lose 1 pound per week.
- A medium frozen blended coffee drink from your favorite coffee shop has 400+ calories.
- Reducing your dietary intake by 1000 calories a day. You will lose 2 pounds per week.
- A three piece fried chicken finger basket at your favorite drive through spot has 1000+ calories
- The easiest way to eliminate weight fast is to track and decrease the amount of bread and sugar (carbohydrates) you are consuming. Restaurants and food companies cram carbs into everything!
- A lot of people hear “exercise” and picture hours-long personal training sessions at the local gym. It doesn’t need to be that drastic. Find a treadmill, set it at an incline, and walk briskly for 30 minutes 4 to 5 times a week. Heck, you can even watch TV or a streaming app on your smartphone while you do it.
- Talk with your healthcare provider about your goals, and ways to meet them. Medications, meal replacements, and supplements can be a valuable tool to decrease the likelihood you will develop heart disease, but should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Many companies take advantage of lax labelling guidelines for OTC products and dupe consumers.
Call us with any questions you may have, and we will be happy to steer you in the right direction. Spring is right around the corner.